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'Loyal' Amersham and Chesham MP Cheryl Gillan won't quit Government over HS2
'I WON'T quit' was the clear message from Cheryl Gillan, the Amersham and Chesham MP, in an exclusive interview in Friday's edition of the Bucks Free Press.
Mrs Gillan said she would not be giving in to calls from political opponents and campaigners for her to resign as Welsh Secretary.
She said she was loyal to the Government and was making progress in lessening the harm to the Chilterns.
Her remarks welcoming changes to the plans infuriated campaigners, especially in Great Missenden, who felt she had backtracked from promises made before the 2010 General Election.
But she said: “I am not resigning. The speculation on my resignation has always come from the press and my political opponents and that's the way they fight.
“If they spend less energy attacking me and more energy turning their minds to what could be done with this project, that would be better.
“I'm exceedingly loyal to my party and my Government and I will remain so but I've always spoken my mind and I think that's respected.
“In a Parliamentary democracy the views of the majority prevail and currently the majority of MPs in the House of Commons support the HS2 project.
“I've looked at on behalf of my constituents at cancelling the project.
“But if it goes ahead I have a duty to my constituents and the best deal for the AONB and for Chesham and Amersham.”
Angry protesters from her constituency believe she has backtracked from her pledge at the General Election.
But Mrs Gillan said: “What I said before the election, and I never changed my position, is if they asked me to vote for a bill where there was no change, no change for my constituency I would have resigned the whip and I wouldn't have been able to vote for that bill.
“I was quite clear about it. But we've got already got some changes, good changes and I'm looking at what further possibilities there will be.”
Despite denying she will quit, bookmakers have still made her favourite to leave the Government.
But she dashed the odds: “For me politics is too serious and I'm not a gambling woman and I think it's rather sad that people should be gambling on people's careers, futures, jobs, homes or houses.
“They are trivialising what to me is a really important thing.
"I'm determined to get the best deal I can for my constituents.”
She also pointed toward a possible judicial review being examined by campaigners.
Great Missenden resident Marilyn Fletcher said fellow villagers were up in arms, pointing to a pre-general election meeting at the Misbourne School when about 300 people cheered Mrs Gillan rafters after she pledged her opposition to HS2.
“She made all sorts of promises at the election and people are absolutely furious in Great Missenden,” Mrs Fletcher said.
Great Missenden's Chiltern District Councillor Seb Berry, Independent, said: "On Tuesday, we had the unedifying sight of our MP sitting on the Government front-bench in support of Greening's Statement.
“Less than two years ago the Welsh Secretary was elected on a clear platform of stopping HS2. Far from ending the scheme, she now shares collective responsibility for the decision to push ahead with it.
“Her position as a very senior member of the Government is utterly untenable.
“She should forget Wales, resign her Cabinet post and spend the rest of this Parliament working publicly with her constituents to stop HS2. That is what she was elected to do."